Show season is almost here! Even if you’ve not kept up with your New Year’s resolution to feel better in your show clothes, there’s still some things you can do to look your best and boost your confidence. The key is knowing how to work with your particular build, and wearing the right foundation.
Undergarments are the absolute more important piece of clothing you can wear as a competitor in any event. They can make or break your presentation in the show ring whether you’re showing in showmanship or western pleasure. They can also help you keep your focus if you’re riding in a performance events – if everything stays in place you can concentrate on riding.
Wearing a bra with sufficient support is critical when you’re riding. While some people think this only applies to women who wear a larger cup size, nothing could be further from the truth. The right bra not only keeps your breasts from moving too much, it also keeps other areas such as your chest and sides from moving as well.
Unless you’re extremely thin, it’s likely that even a high impact sports bra by itself will still not be sufficient for riding. One option you can choose is pairing a regular sports bra with a lycra sports tank that has a built in shelf bra. The tank offers additional support through your back, sides and stomach and can be worn as a shirt during hotter weather when you’re not actually showing.
The No Bounce Bra, and the Enell Bra are two popular options available for riders. Shefit also carries a bra that guarantees no bounce and an absolute customizable fit. Sara Marie, the founder of Shefit Apparel is not only a high impact fitness expert, but she grew up in a barrel racing family and knows first hand what it takes to get around a can without bounce!
Sundial Show Clothing offers several options for your show day. Their Intelliskin Second Fit line includes a sports bra, posture support pieces, and their Second Skin Tee.
If you’re showing in In-Hand classes such as Showmanship or Halter, you also want to consider the bottom half of your foundation. Traditional polyester blend show pants tend to accentuate every move – and unfortunately jiggle – that is amplified by trotting with your horse.
Spanx or a similar lycra support garment works very well under show pants and jeans to smooth out the hip areas and support the stomach. Spanx by Sara Blakely offers body suits in addition to regular support briefs.
One thing that can distract from a polished look is stomach and/or back rolls. Rolls are just a part of being human and unless you’re literal skin and bones, we all have them. The key to minimizing them however is having ample support in your clothing, and wearing the right size.
Show clothes are supposed to be fitted so that the outline of the body can be seen and judged. However, fitted doesn’t mean tight!
For chaps, jeans, or pants make sure you have ample room through the waist. Keep in mind if your waist band is tight, it’ll be even tighter when you sit on your horse! A tight waist will cause your stomach to bunch up either below or above your belt line causing a roll that will bounce when you ride or walk. Giving yourself a little more room will allow your clothes to lay flatter and will give you a smoother profile that is not distracting.
The same fit guideline goes for shirts and jackets, especially if they’re made out of thin smooth material such as lycra, polyester or knit. The materials that are commonly used for show ring attire tend to cling to your shape and settle in crevices. A tight fit will actually accentuate any rolls or bumps you may have. This is another reason to wear a lycra tank under your show clothes – it will keep your top layer from sticking to your skin and will let the shirt move freely causing it to lay much better against your body.
When choosing a shirt or jacket, make sure you have enough room that there isn’t any pressure on buttons or zippers, and that the material can lay flat.
For western events, a jacket that hits right below the belt line is a good option if you’re trying to smooth out your stomach area – just make sure you read your breed or discipline’s rule book to make sure they are allowed.
In events where a certain attire is not required such as play days, open barrel shows, etc you’ll want to follow these same basic rules. If you wear an un-tucked shirt, make sure it’s fitted through your midsection as any excess can easily get caught on the saddle horn. If you’re competing in hot weather and opt to wear a tank top, make absolutely certain you wear a substantial sports bra underneath and that the tank top is a sports tank with lots of additional support as well. Traditional bras and knit tank tops do not provide adequate support or coverage for riding. Not only that, regular bras can easily get hung on the saddle horn even if you don’t wear a large size cup. I’m sure I’m not the only gal that’s gotten her bra stuck on the saddle horn coming off a barrel pattern, or seen a pair of boobs pop up and out over a regular tank top at a race!
Shirt patterns and color placement can make a difference in overall appearance in the show ring. Wearing darker solid colors will make a rider look thinner and are classic but solid colors will also accentuate your movements as a rider or handler. You can use patterns to help draw the judge’s eye away from your weak areas of riding, or to help balance out your overall presentation. Vertical stripes can help you appear taller and thinner, patterns at the shoulder can make your shoulders appear wider. Keep in mind that anywhere there are patterns or embellishments, that’s where a judge’s eye will naturally be focused.
In regards to drawing attention in the show ring by what you’re wearing, it really comes down to your skill level as a rider and the size of the show. Clothing that draws a lot of attention will keep the judge’s eye on you and they’ll notice everything about your ride – good and bad. If you’re a skilled rider at the top of your sport, that’s not a bad thing. However, if you’re a rider that’s still working on your horsemanship skills, or you have a horse that’s still learning going with a classic outfit might be a better choice as it doesn’t draw as much constant attention.
With the proper preparation – and foundation – you can go out and enjoy your show season and feel more confident no matter what your size.
What are you plans for your show season this year? What are some of your favorite clothes for competing with your horse?